Child wellbeing

By Constance Ndeleko

Improving Children’s Wellbeing

Childhood is a very valuable time. It is a time for growth, development, exploration and developing the fundamentals for adulthood. But we know all these important elements can be damaged by the development of a mental health disorder or poor mental health as a child or young person.

At this vibrant time of life, it is imperious that services work together to make sure children are getting the best – not just getting by.

The mental benefits of physical activity at school, has been a rather neglected theme in health promotion research during recent decades. This is unfortunate as mental health has been decreed as one of the most important health concerns of the 21st century.

The benefits of regular physical activity (PA) can help build social skills and self-esteem commonly viewed as a key indicator of positive well-being. 

Unfortunately, many children and young people exercise insufficiently to benefit from positive factors. 

In recent years, a number of large school-based interventions have been conducted, in the effort to increase physical activity in larger, blended populations of children

An overall conclusion of studies is that, increased physical activity during school hours is associated with better physical, psychological and social health and well‐being.

PA has an overall positive effect on mental health and well-being. There is compelling evidence that regular PA can have a positive effect on emotional well-being, especially for children and young people.

Positive experiences with PA form part of a “virtuous cycle” and improve self-concepts and even more, overall well-being, while negative experiences transform the relationship to a “vicious cycle” through which the person becomes more and more disaffected in relation to PA.

Improving your child’s mental health & emotional well-being

  • One of the most significant things you can teach your children is to identify what they are feeling and to express their feelings in words.
  • Pause and really listen to your child before offering advice or getting angry. This helps your child to trust you and listen more openly to the advice you decide to give. When children are upset, be careful to understand their point of view and validate that they feel that way whether or not you agree. 
  • Children often show us they are having a problem through their behavior rather than words. It is a clue that something needs to be problem-solved or that they need emotional support to cope and move forward. This is a reason why the language of feelings is so important. It isn’t healthy if your child can’t tell you what is going on.
  • All children need help to learn about their emotions and relationships. It is our job as adults to teach them these skills. Every child is different so we need to figure out what reaches each child individually. Physical activities are the best ways of helping children learn to cope with difficult feelings and relationships. Creativity is a natural human way to learn and express ourselves. 
  • Teach your child that every person will experience times of strength and times of struggle. There is no shame in struggling.
  • To change negative thinking patterns, the person must start a different and positive path and practice that instead. Once people get used to a new positive path, they follow it automatically and they start to feel happier.
  • Many adults grew up being shut down and ashamed of their feelings. They tried to ignore them in order to get through tough times. We pass this on to children unintentionally.
  • Children are like mirrors that reflect back what they see in their environments. Teach your children to grow emotionally by showing them you aren’t afraid to express feelings and to cope in a positive way.
  • Don’t shame your children for having tough feelings or being upset. If you don’t know how, ask for help. There is nothing wrong with needing help. If your children need help, you want them to be able to ask for it, so it is important that you show them you are able to ask for help as well.

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